The Wire Watchalong: Season 3, Episodes 7 and 8

thewireseason3Welcome to the Inanimate Blog watchalong for The Wire. Every week we’ll be watching two episodes and posting our thoughts. We’re not recapping each episode in detail; that’s what Wikipedia is for. This week is Season 3, Episodes 7 and 8.

S03E07

Sam: So I read over the Wikipedia article for this episode to compile my notes, as I normally do, and they have it organized by plot line, as they always do. I feel like I wrote something down for each one, but in almost every case, it boiled down to… meh. Omar? Sure. Carcetti? Still like him. Marlo’s a pigeon weirdo? Okay. Cutty continues to boring around like a boring thing? Right on.

Emily: It all mostly just felt like they were putting things into place that we could already see coming. Not the most compelling episode but at least it feels like they might finally be going somewhere exciting with all of this soon.

Sam: Exactly. The good news about The Wire is that even in episodes when we’re just marking time, they’re still getting stuff done. It might be wiping off the table and polishing the silver in preparation for even just the table setting to come next, but it’s not uninteresting. For example, Carver’s tiny heart is trying again. He isn’t just a dick, he can also care occasionally. At least about the kids.

Emily: Carver always pisses me off more than Herc whenever he either doesn’t care or does something corrupt. He’s obviously smarter but he’s just trying to put in his time with the occasional promotion until it’s time to retire and collect his pension.

Sam: Agree. It’s more frustrating when he’s bad because we know he knows better, and is capable of caring about doing better. More frustrating than that, though, is Kima and her situation with her wife. I’m not sure who the show wants us to sympathize with, or if it’s clear, but I feel bad for both parties. As we discussed before, unlike in a heterosexual couple, Kima really didn’t have much to do with her wife getting pregnant. And maybe it seems like she should have put up more of a fuss back then, because nothing’s sure getting fixed now.

Emily: I’m starting to get frustrated with how Kima is being written. At first it seemed like the baby situation was there to discuss the politics of how homosexual couples form families in a different way than fertile heterosexual couples do but sometimes it seems like they’re just showing how a good cop can be a shitty spouse and parent. It’s more like it’s about how McNulty’s marriage fell apart than about Kima.

Sam: I was just going to say, we already have McNulty for that. Boo. McNulty is funnier to watch confused than just about everyone on this show, though, and so his complete bafflement (along with the rest of the detail) when Carver showed up and told them they had to give the drugs back to Bodie and co. was pretty great.

Emily: If Hamsterdam didn’t have to be this weird open secret, it would be perfect. Poor McNulty. He’s in trouble with Daniels because he didn’t follow procedure, not only can he not nail down Stringer but Avon is out, and then he can’t even bust Bodie. The Barksdale organization is clearly the winner of this episode.

S03E08

Sam: I think they’re maybe not the winner of this one, but we’ll get there in a second. First, let’s cover everything else. Like how The Deacon (name sourced from Wikipedia, caps included) is actually really freaking interesting.

Emily: I want a spin-off with The Deacon. He would bring me all of the social justice issues that my white guilt needs to watch and feel bad about.

Sam: He’s awesome, in his almost shadowy behind-the-scenes kind of ways to get things done. Besides, anyone who uses hustling as a teaching mechanism is pretty cool. And he made my second-favorite part of this episode, possibly of the entire season, happen! Oh, my bleeding liberal heart throbbed with righteous joy when they got all the social services set up in Hamsterdam. Needle exchange programs and hot meals and medications and checkups… I loved it so hard.

Emily: Hamsterdam got even cooler when they did all of that. Who cares about the letter of the law when you can actually do something to service the existing community?

Sam: Right? Actual improvements in the lives of the people! Along multiple axes! Speaking of things that amused me this episode, I was remarkably entertained by Prez’s silly moment with the surveillance footage. “But no one can see that… wait… what’s he doing… He’s amazing! OMG!” etc. And the look Daniels gave him was so great too.

Emily: Everything with Prez is great lately. He’s been doing stellarly mediocre work since late season 1. Nothing will ever be as impressive as standing up to his father-in-law but he at least manages to be an effective blend of good police and entertainment.

Sam: I was just remarking to myself how much I like him now for much of a fuckup he was at the beginning. He’s made some remarkable character growth. The other character I found myself feeling that way about this episode is Brianna Barksdale, of all people. I didn’t really have any strong feelings about her before, even as she was pretty crucial to the plot, but now with this thing with McNulty (Brianna: “This cop…” Stringer: “That’d be McNulty”) has got me really feeling for her position. Plus she did great serious crying after McNulty laid her flat.

Emily: I have always gone back and forth on Brianna. I still don’t entirely love her because I believe that she was ultimately responsible for pushing her son further into his uncle’s criminal dealings but I did feel for her this episode.

Sam: I don’t think I love her, and I don’t know that I would ever, since I agree with you that she basically got her son killed (not that she knew that), but I’m remarkably compelled. Okay, we’ve covered everything else… AVON AND STRINGER AVON AND STRINGER AVON AND STRINGER!

Emily: And now you know why I told you that I need to know what happens next after I watched this episode. Nothing else matters because I just want to watch Avon and Stringer.

Sam: So basically Avon gets shot, and they start to have their little kerfuffle, and Avon’s all talking a big game like he usually does, and challenging String, and String lays his on the table and measures it with a fucking yardstick. And then physically beats Avon in a fight. It’s their whole relationship in miniature, honestly: Avon, the one who’s physically injured, still tries to pick a fist fight when he shouldn’t, and Stringer takes care of fucking business in his deadly cold way. Stringer just gets shit done, man.

Emily: For now. I’m starting to think that Stringer is getting a bit too cocky. Avon is already pissy that his organization is no longer really his and Stringer feels like he has the upperhand so much that he can just straight out admit to Avon that he had his nephew killed. If Avon still felt like he was in charge, he might understand the strategic reason why Stringer did it but I don’t think that he’s in a place to hear that right now. Much like his sister, Avon is able to feel bad about his family every once in awhile, just not all of the time.

Sam: I don’t think it’s admitting so much as using it as a conversational (and relationship) weapon. “You don’t think I’m tough? I had your motherfucking nephew killed. EAT IT.” Man, I just love Stringer. You’re all analyzing it rationally, I’m just sitting here fanning myself and squealing over the baddest of badass.

Emily: I was with you at first. In fact, my love and appreciation of Stringer is why I’m just so worried that it’s all going to backfire on him.

Sam: You’ve also had a lot longer to process it, given my crazy schedule and remarkable flakiness at blogging regularly. All I can say is I’m sure looking forward to the fallout from this one. See you next week?

Emily: See you next week!

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